Welcome to the rebooted livinginasia.co – a site dedicated to urban design, heritage, infrastructure, and transport in Asia.
Living In Asia began in 2014 with the intention of covering location independent / digital nomad lifestyle tips in Asia. As the site developed I soon realised that most of what I was covering is already being done sufficiently on other nomad sites. I’ve moved most of those articles to my travel blog at nomadicnotes.com.
In the meantime I’ve ended up spending even more time in Southeast Asia, and my focus has shifted to infrastructure and development in Asia. I’ve been writing about redevelopment and urban planning more at nomadicnotes.com, such as the changing face of Saigon, the 2017 edition, and a look at how KL is transforming its old city.
I’ve also been covering rail transport (metro and regional railways). I began a project mapping the future railway proposals of Southeast Asia, starting out with a subway-style metro map.
A year later I revisited the map to see what has been changed, and I made a map showing current and proposed railways.
I’ve been doing this from my adopted quasi-homebase of Saigon, which is experiencing a dramatic transformation – for better and worse. Saigon is the only mega city in Southeast Asia that has no metropolitan railway of any kind. The first metro line is being built now, with a total of nine rail projects on the cards. I created an updated map of the metro as there isn’t an updated version yet.
In terms of development I am both amazed and dismayed at the current rate of development in Saigon. While the city is getting much needed redevelopment, it is coming at a cost of lost heritage. The remaining heritage buildings need to be conserved to make it a liveable place for residents, an interesting place for tourists, and an attractive place to do business.
[Demolition of old Saigon.]
This article about Shanghai conserving buildings of historical value sums up well what other cities should be doing:
“Shanghai…successfully uses its heritage to highlight its competitive advantage as a vibrant and attractive place to live. Protecting old buildings in Shanghai is not just about sentiment or vanity; it’s hard economics and integrated into the planning of the local urban economy.”
Other cities have already been through this. Singapore destroyed a lot of its historic downtown core before it became conscious of the value of heritage conservation. Cities like Saigon need not make the same mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for sexy modern architecture. I would love to see more towers designed by the likes of Ole Scheeren. There just needs to be a balance between development and heritage conservation.
This blog is partly born out this viewpoint. I’ve compiled so much information about development in Asian cities that it makes sense to put it on a dedicated blog. I will keep my travel updates on Nomadic Notes.
Initially I will be focussing on the cities I visit every year (Saigon, Bangkok, KL, Singapore, Hong Kong), and I will add more cities as I go. The site is also open for guest posts. I’m still working out a site format, but it will also include a news roundup. Sign up to the newsletter to stay updated.